COMPLEX PROBLEM: Nearly half of the world’s billion-plus youth population is locked in a state of poverty due to unemployment, underemployment, and an overall lack of economic opportunity. This reality has implications for both individuals and entire societies. The United Nations reports that countries with a youth population above 30 percent are at higher risk of violence and political or social unrest. With few opportunities, many youth are forced to migrate. These young people often fall victim to hazardous labor and human trafficking, or are lured into criminal activity and violent extremism.
INTEGRATED SOLUTION: Because there is no simple solution to providing opportunities for upward mobility for the world’s young people, Winrock takes a multi-layered approach. Around the globe, we partner with communities, businesses, educators and governments to help youth develop confidence and gain access to resources that enable them to transition to adulthood and careers.
Creating an enabling environment
A critical factor in whether youth, especially the most vulnerable, are able to grow and thrive is the enabling environment. An effective enabling environment has many actors, and Winrock works with all of them, from individuals and families to communities and businesses to local and national governments. Our work helps:
Expanding economic opportunities
Winrock’s market-based approach to unlocking economic opportunity begins with an assessment of the demand for goods and services. With that knowledge, we then partner with established market actors to provide youth with the workforce skills, entrepreneurial literacy and professional networks they need to meet genuine demands and earn income.
To build a better future for themselves and their communities, young people need confidence to pursue education, training, careers and business opportunities. Winrock establishes safe spaces where youth can test new ideas and hone their skills. For example, model farm schools, innovation hubs and mentoring clubs offer important handson learning experiences while promoting interaction with role models and peers. Through these interactions, youth also gain life skills such as teamwork, communication and leadership.
In Nepal, marginalized groups such as ethnic minorities, women and members of lower castes are regularly excluded from education and training opportunities. In response, Winrock combined literacy and life skills education with technical and vocational training to help 54,000 youth (81 percent women) hone their skills in high value agriculture, while over 8,000 youth earned off-farm income. Three months after course completion, 83 percent of graduates had obtained jobs or started on a path toward self-employment.
In partnership with Kenya’s government, Winrock helped 99,050 youth obtain identification cards. This allowed them to apply for training programs, jobs and loans. Winrock also helped mobilize youth to plant 1.2 million tree seedlings in a fragile watershed. In return, youth gained access to arable land they could use to jumpstart their livelihoods.
After just a few months in Winrock’s agriculture-focused women’s empowerment course in Bangladesh, 90 percent of participants had made use of their new community life skills, more than 28,000 women had applied improved technologies or management practices, and 18,500 women had accessed credit for productive uses.